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Grading weakly struck and late die state circulated bust coins

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Draped bust half dollars often come in varying degrees of weak strikes and late die states, make grading and pricing difficult. In the following three scenarios, how would NGC grade?


1. An 1807 O-110 is usually found with weak strikes having flat hair detail and a weak eagle's head, but a few can be found with sharp strikes. How would a sharply struck coin and a weakly struck coin be graded, if both have equal wear?


2. 1806 O-117 and O-121 are found with very late states of obverse dies, hair detail can be nearly absent on even lightly circulated examples. How would an 1806 O-117 be graded if it was lightly circulated, but most hair detail was gone? Does NGC deduct points for late die states?


3. 1806 O-119 is the "sinking die" variety caused by improper annealing of the reverse die. In this variety, the outer periphery can be sharply struck, but the centers are extremely weak, with the hair ribbon barely visible. Will NGC deduct points for the "partial" weak strike?


Thank you

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When grading weakly struck coins, whether they be early Bust halves or any other issue that is weakly struck, NGC grades the coin based upon the actual wear that the coin possesses. Therefore, a lightly circulated 1806 Half Dollar will receive the same grade as an 1810 dated Half Dollar of equal wear that is well struck. While the coins may look very different, numismatists and collectors of these coins understand the nuances of strike for these issues, and know that many 1806 and 1807 halves will never look like their 1810 counterpart.


The same is true for the sunken die variety. When grading, we focus on the areas of the coin that give us a true gauge as to how much wear the coin has actually acquired, and not focus on what's left of apparent detail.


Likewise, NGC does not deduct for late die states or partial weak strikes on circulated pieces that you address.


Thanks for your very well thought out and detailed question.


Rick Montgomery

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Thank you for the response. I agree with NGC's policy of grading circulated coins based on wear and not deducting points for weak strikes and/or late die states.


A similar question was posted in the other grading service's Q&A forum and the response was this: "For circulated coins, if the strike is unusually weak, there would be some deduction of points for the final grade." In my opinion, this opens up a lot of subjectivity and inconsistency in grading. It would be difficult to objectively measure "unusually weak", especially on bust coins.






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